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In Arkansas: Task forces look at problems in rice

I keep hearing from entomologists that stink bugs are staged up in grass on field borders waiting for Arkansas' rice to head. This does not mean for sure they will hit hard in the rice, but it sure means that you need to be on the lookout.

Stink bug management is simply a matter of scouting properly and spraying if they are at threshold levels. With times this tough, you do not need a big discount due to pecky rice.

I thought I had been on my last “task force” when I retired form the University of Arkansas. Now I find myself on two more.

One of them is a group that RiceTec put together to brainstorm about the Newpath injury problems that happened in some fields of the Clearfield hybrids this year. They are looking hard at their internal procedures in an attempt to figure out what happened.

When you look at the research data and the field trials, everything indicates there is adequate tolerance to the 4-ounce rates of Newpath and to the labeled rate of Beyond.

A lot of Newpath goes out on the hybrids with no adverse affects. However, it is also evident that certain conditions can occur in the field where the hybrid is overly sensitive to the herbicide.

Several of us in the group emphasized that the goal simply has to be tolerance equal to that in CL 161 in order to prevent the unpredictable.

My family and I just returned from the LSU AgCenter's rice field day. That is always a good time.

Steve Linscombe, a rice breeder there, spoke highly of the new potential Clearfield release, CL 151. He reported that it had consistently outyielded Cocodrie and Cheniere in their trials.

The University of Arkansas has developed a Wells/CL 161 cross that will be called CL 171. Steve had no yield data on it yet, but it has been reported to yield very well in the Puerto Rico trials. I am looking forward to hearing more about it at the rice research field day at Stuttgart, Ark., in August.

It is apparent that the Clearfield varieties are catching up with the conventional varieties.

The other task force I am on is the one created by the Arkansas State Plant Board on glyphosate drift issues. I am asked about what is going on with that one everywhere I go. We have had our first two meetings and laid some of the ground work.

There are no easy answers but hopefully by working on a lot of individual pieces of the puzzle we can make an impact. We are simply going to have to or there will be some areas in the state where it will be very difficult to successfully grow rice.

Some initial things we are considering include formulation characteristics of the herbicide itself, educational programs to better inform farmers and applicators about drift and susceptibility of crops such as rice to drift, and regulatory issues.

I am continually asked, “How far will it drift?” That alone tells me that a better educational effort is needed.

Along the same line, I have walked a lot fields damaged by drift from both airplanes and ground rigs and had the applicator say, “I had no idea it would drift that far.” I believe they were being honest, but obviously they have been misinformed.

A lot of the educational effort will likely fall on my former colleagues in the university system. However, it is also very obvious to many that we are getting no help from the manufacturers in this area. They just seem content to put the technology in the marketplace and then if anything adverse happens, it is either the applicator's or the farmer's problem.

This perception alone is generating a lot of discussion among the group. We will be calling on a lot of different individuals and groups for inputs and ideas.

If you e-mail me a constructive idea that may be helpful, I will make sure it is passed on.

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